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Dr. C. Ellis Potter Receives Doctor of Ocular Science Degree and Delivers Commencement Address

C. Ellis Potter, OD ’67, FAAO, was chosen to receive SCO’s Doctor of Ocular Science degree and deliver the commencement address to the Class of 2018. Known for his longtime service to VOSH International and other international causes, Dr. Potter was recognized by the American Academy of Optometry in 2017 with its Brien Holden Humanitarian Award.

Dr. Bart Campbell, SCO’s Vice President for Academic Affairs, presenting the honorary degree to Dr. Potter.
In private practice in Iola, Kansas, Dr. Potter has served on numerous committees as well as Editor of the Kansas Optometric Journal. Active in his local Rotary Club, he is a member of the Rotary Action Group for Avoidable Blindness.
In 2008, Dr. Potter and his local Rotarians formed the Vision Quest International Foundation, whose purpose is the education and alleviation of Refractive Error Blindness. He has led the organization as president. A member of VOSH-Kansas and a Fellow of VOSH International, Dr. Potter has led or participated in numerous VOSH medical missions. He was awarded the VOSH/International Dr. Harry I. Zelter Lifetime Achievement Award at the VOSH/International annual meeting in Chicago in October 2017.

Posted by Jennifer Sharp at 5/11/18

The Hayes Center for Practice Excellence Announces 2018 Award Recipients

The Hayes Center (HCPE) for Practice Excellence, a vital resource for SCO students and alumni, is pleased to announce its 2018 award recipients for the HCPE Practice of Excellence Award.

The HCPE Practice of Excellence Award is designed to identify and reward successful practices, recognize the achievements made by SCO graduates, and help foster joint relationships that benefit both the alumni and current optometry students.

The awards are divided into three sections based on the number of years of practice: long-term graduate, midterm graduate and recent graduate.

A panel of judges consisting of members of the Hayes Center for Practice Excellence Advisory Board, the Director of HCPE and Dr. Jerry Hayes made the selection.

“This was far and away the most distinguished pool we have received for this prestigious award with 36 VERY WORTHY young ODs and practices submitting applications,” said Lisa Wade, OD ’84, MPA, Director of HCPE.

Long-Term Graduate Award recipient Kevin Rogers, OD, is a 2008 SCO graduate and the owner of Rogers Regional Eye Center, located in Greenwell Springs, Louisiana. Dr. Rogers is an active member in the American Optometric Association and the Optometry Association of Louisiana. He has also served as Past President of the Louisiana Southeast Optometric Society and is also a board member of the Central Chamber of Commerce in Central Louisiana and the Board of Commissioners for Central Fire Protection District.

Midterm Graduate Award recipients Courtney Shay, OD and Timothy LeFreniere, OD are 2012 graduates and are the owners of Virginia Eyecare Center in Burke, Virginia. Both doctors are certified by the National Board of Examiners in Optometry and the Virginia Board of Optometry.

Recent Graduate Award recipient Canaan Montgomery, OD is a 2014 graduate and the owner of the West End Eye Care in Paducah, Kentucky. Dr. Montgomery has written articles for and is in the process of writing a book on opening an optometry office.

Congratulations to the HCPE Practice of Excellence Award recipients!


Pictured are Kevin Rogers, OD '08, Kourtney Rogers, Courtney Shay, OD '12, Timothy LeFreniere, OD '12, Canaan Montgomery, OD '14, and Rebecca Montgomery, with Jerry Hayes, OD '73, Cris Hayes, and Nathan Hayes.

Posted by Jennifer Sharp at 4/11/18

Nominations Sought for Honorary Degrees

SCO is accepting nominations for honorary degrees to recognize distinguished ODs and other individuals to be recognized at the college's 2018 commencement ceremony. Recipients must be of sufficient stature and character as to honor the college; anonymous submissions will not be accepted.

Specific criteria must include at least two of these:

  • Distinguished record of scholarship;
  • Outstanding contributions to society through humanitarian efforts, public service, or education;
  • Outstanding contributions to optometry or the optometric profession.

Nominations and supporting materials should be sent to Academic Affairs (Honorary Degrees), c/o SCO, 1245 Madison Ave., Memphis, TN 38104, or emailed to The deadline is October 31.

Farias, Lyerly to Receive Alumni Awards

SCO has selected two outstanding alumni to be recognized at the college's Fall Homecoming and Continuing Education Weekend. Receiving SCO's Lifetime Achievement Award - the highest honor bestowed by the college - is Fred Farias III, OD '87, FAAO, and receiving the Young Alumni Award is Jennifer Lyerly, OD '11.

About Fred Farias III, OD '87, FAAO

A member of SCO's Alumni Council, Dr. Farias was named the 2016 Optometrist of the Year by the American Optometric Association. CEO of 20/20 Vision Care in McAllen, Texas, Dr. Farias is a therapeutic optometrist and an optometric glaucoma specialist.

Dr. Farias is the immediate past president of the Texas Optometric Association, which named him its 2015 Optometrist of the Year. He volunteers as an InfantSEE® provider, a no-cost public health program developed to provide professional eye care for infants nationwide through Optometry Cares®—The AOA Foundation, of which he is a charter member.

Additionally, he organizes and sponsors vision screenings for underserved communities in south Texas. His service to optometry also includes volunteering as a member of the AOA Federal Legislative Action and Keyperson Committee. Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Dr. Farias to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

About Jennifer Lyerly, OD '11

Dr. Lyerly graduated summa cum laude from SCO in 2011 and was named an Outstanding Clinician in her class. A native of Clemmons, North Carolina, she was valedictorian at North Carolina State University. She practices in Cary, North Carolina with a focus on specialty contact lenses.

She is the founder of Eyedolatry Blog, an eyecare website with a focus on encouraging women's leadership within optometry, and was named one of Vision Monday's Most Influential Women in Optometry in 2015.

In 2016 she cofounded Defocus Media, a social media management company for private practice ODs, and is the cohost of the popular Defocus Media Podcast.

A 2017 finalist for Transitions Academy's Brand Ambassador of the Year, Dr. Lyerly has emerged as one of the profession's leading content experts on best practices for ODs using social media. 


Posted by Jim Hollifield at 6/12/17

Hayes Center Awards Announced

The Hayes Center for Practice Excellence at Southern College of Optometry recently selected four outstanding young alumni as recipients of the center’s fourth annual Practice of Excellence Award. The award identifies and rewards successful practices, recognizes achievements of SCO graduates, and helps foster joint relationships that benefit SCO’s alumni and current optometry students.

Three different $5,000 awards were designated to honor young alumni at different stages of their optometric career. All three awards – including one given collectively to a husband and wife partnership – recognize success in the private practice principles emphasized by the Hayes Center’s mission to encourage practice success.

The 2017 recipients included:

Drs. Eric and Victoria Gengenbach, Class of 2009, recipient of the Long-Term Graduate Award for the years 2006-2009. Drs. Gengenbach operate First Insight Eyecare at four locations throughout southwest Nebraska.

Dr. Spencer Luke, Class of 2011, recipient of the Mid-term Graduate Award for the years 2010-2012. He is a partner at Apple Eyecare in Island City, Oregon.

Dr. Matthew Aaker, Class of 2013, recipient of the Recent Graduate Award for the years 2013-2015. Dr. Aaker practices at Visionary Family Eye Care in San Antonio, Texas.

The 2017 awards were presented by Lisa Rossmeyer Wade, OD ’84, Director of the Hayes Center for Practice Excellence, and Nathan Hayes, representing the Hayes Family Foundation. Each of the recipients spoke to SCO’s third-year students, followed by a Q&A session during a program designed to assist the college’s students with successful transition into their fourth-year externship rotations and subsequent graduation. 

at 4/21/17